El Salvador: water protesters demand justice

The rural community of Cutumay Camones, in Santa Ana department, El Salvador, is demanding justice following a series of violent attacks by the national police and army troops. On Oct. 12, security forces invaded Cutumay Camones, using tear gas and rubber bullets against community members, including children and elders, for protesting against the construction of a garbage dump they say will contaminate local water sources. The scene was repeated on Oct. 25, when a TV journalist was also attacked. National Civilian Police authorities have removed the officers implicated in the attack on the journalist, but community leaders are demanding further measures.

President Antonio Saca admits there was an “excess of force” applied by the riot police at Cutumay Camones, but calls it an “isolated case.” Members of his right-wing ARENA party in the National Assembly have said the riot police were “just doing their job.” The defense came in response to calls for action against the police by the left-opposition FMLN.

The community organization ACOFUBEN protests that local residents have not been consulted on the siting of the dump, and El Salvador’s Human Rights Ombudsman Oscar Luna has criticized the project for not having the proper legal permits from the Environment Ministry. A report prepared for the National Assembly by the Salvadoran Court of Audits found irregularities in the permit for the dump granted to Presys, a private company. The permit application did not have an adequate environmental impact report and was granted in violation of Article 25 of the Environmental Law, the report found. (CISPES, Nov. 1)

See our last posts on El Salvador and the struggle in Central America.

See also our special report, “El Salvador: March for Water Rights Demands ‘Blue Democracy’.”